Well, I’m not sure what exactly what makes owning animals an “authentic” experience or for that matter an “American” one. (Point of fact, the actual zoo the story was based on is in England.) But even if I can quibble with the phrasing, I get the point. No, I’m not going to run out a buy my kids an aardvark or a lemur and certainly not a lion, but there is something about caring for animals that just goes hand and hand with childhood.
I grew up in the suburbs with cats, a dog and the occasional rabbit. We never had anything that was truly exotic or certainly nothing that Ol’ McDonald would be interested in. However, my husband grew up on a farm in west Texas and his upbringing was so very different than mine. It was a cotton farm, not like the Fisher-Price farm, so they never had the full complement of barn-yard animals, but they had a cow or two, some horses, and yes, chickens. I had an ordinary childhood–not much to complain about really–but I’ve known ever since I fell in love with my hubby that I wanted our kids raised more like he was than like I was. I wanted our kids to have the experience of raising and caring for animals. I wanted them to have the responsibilities, the joys and yes, even the heartaches. Sure they could have had all that with a puppy, but I also wanted them to make the connection with where our food comes from. I wanted them to eat things grown in our garden or gathered from our own chickens. And, yes, I admit it. Baby chicks are cute.
Once, years ago, I saw an episode of Martha Stewart in which she toured a baby chick factory. (I’m sure that’s not the right word, but you know what I mean.) I was totally charmed. Those cute little fluffy things? Who wouldn’t love those?
Still, at the time I thought she was crazy for raising her own chickens for eggs. Things have changed drastically in the past decade. Now, yard chickens are a growing trend. People all over town have them. And now, we do too!
I’m eager to see how this all goes. We’ve already had a brush with the heartache. We started with six and now we’re down to five, but the kids love them and are getting much less Lenny-like when it comes to touching them. If all goes well, in six to ten months we’ll have eggs!
Are any of your yard chicken owners? Or do you have any other exotic pets?